The death of local wildlife is drawing considerable concern following the Feb. 3 crash of a train carrying hazardous chemicals. Local residents and one Ohio state agency believe the event almost two weeks ago is causing a number of local animal deaths.
The railway crash contained 50 train cars and caused an evacuation of the entire population within a one-mile radius around the crash site. The resulting evacuation zone straddled the border between Ohio and Pennsylvania and required action by both state governments.
According to law enforcement, five of the railway cars carried dangerous chemicals. Emergency services personnel destroyed much of the remaining hazardous material through a controlled burn.
Exposure to the chemicals was so severe that the emergency equipment of the local fire department needed to be replaced.
East Palestine fire department forced to get new gear https://t.co/WKq7CO1iMp
— WKBN 27 First News (@WKBN) February 12, 2023
There is at least partial confirmation of a significant number of animal deaths following the spill. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, almost 4,000 fish died due to exposure to the train’s cargo.
Dead fish were found in at least three locations near the crash site. One eyewitness described seeing dead fish nearby, and that her family is not using local well water.
Local media is reporting on the negative effects of the chemical spill on local foxes and cited a local farmer as stating that a number of cats have died as well.
Another local farmer reported the sudden deaths of her chickens.
The crash included cargo of several volatile chemicals. The Environmental Protection Agency identified ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate, and isobutylene as three of the chemicals within the rail cars involved in the crash.
Ethylhexyl acrylate is the most dangerous of the three. It is a known carcinogen and contact with the chemical can cause burning in the skin and eyes and cause difficulty breathing.
The incident is being investigated by several federal and state agencies, including the National Transportation Safety Board. The agency is seeking “perishable evidence” regarding the crash and its causes. So far, the agency has carried out a drone map of the area and observed the local rail track.